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For the past two or three weeks I have been reading Sophocles’ play Oedipus Tyrannus and now that I am done reading it, have thoroughly thought about it, discussed it in class, and reflected on its context (to a certain extent of course), I can say that it is quite a good play. What amazes me the most about it is that it was written so long ago but that it is still very relevant today. For me that shows not only that Sophocles was an amazing writer and storyteller but also that things are not that different now than two thousand years ago. Then again, they are. The lifestyle of the average Greek at that time was quite different from that of the average American living in the 1st century. What hasn’t changed however, and what makes the play so relevant, is human emotions. There is still love, hate, lying and cheating today and so although the lives of Oedipus and the other characters are quite different from ours, their emotions are the same.

The part of the play that I enjoyed the most is the conclusion. I find it to be a great ending to a great play and although it is a very tragic finale, I found that it had a very positive message. First, we see that Jocasta commits suicide because she is so shocked by what she finds out and also because she is ashamed of what she has caused. Although the reasons for her suicide are not clearly stated in the play, I interpreted as her guilt because perhaps she believed that she was somewhat responsible for what happened. Maybe she thought that this curse was her punishment for having tried to defy the gods and she was so saddened that she did not even want to live.

The powerful and symbolic part comes when Oedipus blinds himself. It is a very appropriate ending for a tragedy but also a sign of hope. We see Oedipus go on a very unusual hero’s journey in Sophocles’ play. He leaves the people who he thinks are his parents out of good will, replaces his father as king of Thebes, has children with his mother, and does all of this not knowing that by running away from his problem he is getting closer to it. Him blinding himself can be seen on a basic level as Oedipus no longer seeing the horrors around him but also as him finding enlightenment. It can be seen as his crossing of the return threshold. Also, the symbol of blindness was seen earlier in the play with the blind prophet Tiresias. Tiresias is blind but yet is the one who sees best because what he sees is the truth and not the lies that surround him. The same can be said about Oedipus. One can think that he blinds himself so that he can be shielded from all the lying and horrors of the world and instead find the truth and eventually enlightenment.

As I reflect on the play as a whole, one idea comes back again and again, the idea that you cannot escape your destiny. If one looks at the story, it is quite obvious that Sophocles wanted to say something about fate. What he wanted to say however is a mystery. In Oedipus’ case, he tries to escape his destiny and as a result of that he ends up getting closer and closer to his destiny and in the end he finds it. This can be interpreted in many different ways. The first and most obvious is that Sophocles wanted to send a message that you cannot defy the gods and if you try to all that will come from it is misery and tragedy. It can also be seen as the author criticizing the gods for their cruelty and furthermore it can be seen as the author critiquing man for always trying to do everything his own way. Lastly, my interpretation of it was that Sophocles was trying to say something about life in general. I believe that he was trying to imply that man has no power and that in the end there is no such thing as decision or even self because it is all planned out by the gods and no matter what one might try to do, the end result will always be what the gods want and so therefore, man has no purpose. This of course is just my interpretation of it and I doubt that it is what Sophocles had in mind but that is to me what makes Oedipus Tyrannus such a great play, the fact that everyone interprets it differently.


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